Production at some oil and gas companies near Fort McMurray could start up again within the coming days.
Premier Rachel Notley says none of the facilities north of the city were damaged by wildfire. However, they haven’t yet been able to assess ones to the south, like Nexen’s Long Lake and Athabasca’s Hangingstone projects.
“For many operators, there was no wildfire risk, and production continues as before. For those in and around Fort McMurray though, there is an economic consequence for taking production offline; there’s foregone revenue to both companies and the Crown.”
Notley met with representatives of more than a dozen energy companies Tuesday, who all agreed operations will only restart when it’s safe to do so. Suncor CEO, Steve Williams, says there doesn’t seem to be any damage to pipelines, which is a good sign.
The first oilsands facility that was shut down by the Fort McMurray wildfire has been restarted, and it’s believed more will follow in the coming days and weeks. Suncor CEO Steve Williams says the projects north of the city only saw smoke and not fire and no pipelines have been damaged.
“There, you’re thinking of days and maybe a week or so, but you’re not talking longer periods. South, where there have been a few more direct impacts from the fire, we have to go in and evaluate and then put the plans in place.”
The vast majority of production is in the north. It’s estimated the shut downs have taken more than a million barrels of oil off the market. Williams doesn’t expect to see any layoffs, and in fact sees no barriers to moving workers back into camps. Suncor flew out 10,000 evacuees.
Timelines could be days, weeks, or even months. The first company to shut down was Shell, and they’ve already got operations up and running again.
The wildfire currently spreads across 229,000 hectares. 2,400 structures have been lost in Fort McMurray and 12 in Anzac. However, almost 90 per cent of the city has been saved, including the hospital, municipal buildings, and every school in the community.
Following the Premier’s visit to the city today, the Prime Minister has announced that he will be visiting the city this week as well. Justin Trudeau made the announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon that he will venture to Fort McMurray on Friday.